The Blitz

A Primer on Ads and Advertising

Organic reach is at abysmal lows. It's a pay-to-play world out there. Authors need to learn ads.

In today’s book market, there are two ways to sell books: content marketing and ads.

Content marketing is everything that isn’t ads… media, blog posts, videos, podcasts. Content marketing is super effective and super time consuming.

Ads are a quicker hit, can be expensive and can have a learning curve.

If you’re exclusive to Amazon, an organic search of your book won’t show on the first page of results without ads.

If you’re wide to Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and others, advertising across all those platforms can be a pain, but totally doable.

Facebook ads, Email Blast ads – both are great options as well.

But is the time right for you to start advertising?

  • Do you have more than one book out?
  • Are your sales in a slump?
  • Is your organic social media reach terrible?
  • Are you trying to build your email list?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s time for you to learn ads.

What are ads?

First and foremost, you need to understand that when you buy Amazon ads, you’re really bidding on a keyword.

You can bid on a thousand keywords for one book if you want to but I think it’s better to have a narrower, more focused approach.

Find the twenty or thirty keywords you think describe your book or what consumers will search in order to find your book.

Bid on those and run the numbers to see how they are doing.

Keep the ones that perform. Dump the ones that don’t.

On Facebook, you’re buying clicks and views.

You need to determine your goals and objectives for your ad: awareness, conversions, leads, or a multitude of other things.

Then you need to find your target audience. Facebook makes this so easy.

Relevancy in ads

Second thing is relevancy.

On Amazon, you may have the highest bid and Amazon still won’t show your ad.

They continually tweak their algorithm to show relevant ads to consumers based off consumer buying history.

If your ad doesn’t look like something the consumer would normally click on, the probability that Amazon shows it to that customer is pretty low.

In other words, if you bid on James Patterson but your ad content is more Nora Roberts, consumers who buy Patterson probably won’t see it.

And anyone who buys Nora won’t see it either because you bid on the wrong keyword.

Amazon does this because it wants its consumers to trust it to show relevant ads.

Facebook? Not so much. You bid on a word and target an audience; Facebook will show that ad and spend your money all day long.

Ad copy

Third thing you need to get is ad copy.

Your ad copy determines whether or not a potential reader will click on your ad.

If you’re selling books, you’ll use your book cover for the visual and then blurbs to describe your story.

Do not tell the whole story.

Do not give a bunch of back story. Do not think like a fiction writer when you write ad copy.

Think like a consumer. Short, punchy sentences.

The faster you get to the point, the faster the reader buys.

If you’re still reading this, you’ve been reading a copywriting technique.

For building an email list, the landing page is crucial.

If you’re getting clicks but not sign-ups, then you need to tweak your landing page.

If your not getting clicks, then the ad itself needs work.

Believe it or not, I got more clicks from a bumblebee ad than from a hot guy ad.

Ad visuals

Normally this means book cover. But if you’re building an email list, it may not.

Depends on your goal.

Create several different visuals so you can test if the ad isn’t working.

For your book, that means you’ll want to commission more than one book cover.

Expensive I know, but if the book isn’t moving and you’ve already tested ad copy, it’s the cover.

For email list building or social following, try videos, graphics and fun photos that represent your brand.

Tweak and Test that ad

Tweak your ads.

You’re getting views but you’re not getting clicks.

Now it’s time to tweak and test elements of the ad.

On Amazon, first thing to test is the book cover.

Leave the ad copy alone and change the book cover.

Let the ad sit for a month and see what happens.

Yes, a month.

Amazon is absolutely abysmal at returning data fast enough and its algorithm takes time to test.

So let the ad sit for a month.

If you’re still not getting clicks, it’s probably the ad copy.

Put the original cover back on it and tweak the ad copy.

If the ad bores you to write, it bores the reader.

If it takes too long to get to the “so what” part of the story, the reader is long gone.

Change the ad copy and let that ad sit for a month to see how well that works.

On Facebook, more often than not, it’s the visual that’s the problem.

Are you using video? You should.

It’s the best format for effective ads on Facebook.

If you’re getting clicks but no one is buying or signing up for your newsletter, it’s the ad copy or the email landing page.

Tweak those and watch what happens.

Facebook is infinitely better than Amazon about data, so you don’t have to let ads sit too long to know whether they work or not.

The bottom line with effective ads is analyzing results and continual tweaking and testing.


For really great, in-depth look at Amazon ads and data analysis, check out Brian Meeks’ Mastering Amazon Ads

For help with sucky Facebook ads, check out Michael Cooper’s Help! My Facebook Ads Suck